End of the road for Hot Rod

Wigan's Hugo Rodallega
Wigan's Hugo Rodallega
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ROBERTO Martinez admits he is already closing in on four new players - but striker Hugo Rodallega and a trio of other stars are heading for the exit.

The Latics chief hopes to conclude his business before the start of the European Championships – which start in less than a month.

Latics bring down the curtain on another successful season when they host Wolves at the DW Stadium this Sunday.

A third win in a row – something they have not yet done under Martinez – would secure 15th place in the Premier League standings.

And while the Spaniard is determined that the side sign off in style, he’s already set his sights firmly on next term.

“The way we operate, we have to be well prepared,” Martinez said.

“We recognise we need to bring four players in, because that is how many we expect to lose.

“There are four players out of contract and I expect them all to go – Hugo Rodallega, Momo Diame, Chris Kirkland and Steve Gohouri.

“The idea is to keep the same numbers as we had this season.

“And it’s something I’d like to do quite quickly, before the Euros if possible.”

With a major tournament taking centre-stage, Martinez recognises the need to move fast if he is to avoid disappointment.

But he cited the signing of Antolin Alcaraz two summers ago on the eve of the World Cup – a tournament the Paraguayan went on to excel at – as proof that decisive action now can pay off down the line.

“We signed Antolin just before the 2010 World Cup, and that was a key moment in our history,” Martinez added.

“He scored the winner against Blackburn on Monday night, and the goal that has confirmed our eighth season in the Premier League.

“If we’d waited another month, in all honesty I don’t think we’d have been able to bring him in, because he did so very well at the tournament in South Africa.

“So it’s important we do our recruitment before the Euros, and I am hopefully we can do that.”

As four doors potentially open, another four will close with Rodallega, Diame, Kirkland and Gohouri all coming to the end of their Wigan careers.

Kirkland was Wigan’s undisputed No.1 before losing his spot to Ali Al Habsi, while Gohouri has found himself on the outside looking in due to the form of Gary Caldwell, Alcaraz and Maynor Figueroa at the heart of the defence.

Martinez did try to keep hold of Rodallega and Diame, but the duo now look set to take up lucrative Bosman offers from elsewhere.

Rodallega, in particular, has endured a frustrating stop-start final campaign at the DW Stadium, mustering just two goals.

But Martinez believes Wigan’s all-time record Premier League marksman deserves credit for the professional approach he has always maintained.

“I can’t praise him enough,” Martinez added.

“He’s been very unselfish in terms of his attitude.

“And I think everyone will look at the time he had at the club as a real success.”